This is my first time to be offered a new job elsewhere, after spending more than 10 years with my current company, which I joined after graduating from college. I was interviewed for the new job and my prospective boss has extended an attractive package of pay and perks. It’s a new experience for me and I don’t know what to do, given that I’m happy with my current job. Please help me make an intelligent decision. — Orange Lily.
A truck driver was backing his dump truck full of construction materials when the truck tilted towards the rear due to the excess weight of its load, lifting the front several feet off the ground. Both the driver and his assistant jumped out.
“What do we do?” the assistant asked. The driver grabbed some tools and went under the truck. “I guess this is the best time to grease her as I have not the chance to do it before,” he said.
It’s difficult to make a decision when an opportunity that big comes before you. It’s either you take the opportunity or you don’t. The trouble is that you don’t know what the future will bring. Your current company could merge with another entity that may result in job losses; you may have a falling out with your current boss; or your company may fold due the prolonged effects of the pandemic.
I was in your shoes decades back. I was an incurable job hopper that I’ve accepted every offer that came my way resulting in me being employed by three organizations during a five-year period. It was easy to make a decision at the time. Job offers came from different sectors that offered me attractive compensation package. That gave me enough confidence in myself.
It’s easy to be tempted with job offers when you’re young and appear to be ready to take on the world. In my case, however, reckless job-hopping provided me many painful lessons. As I begin to answer your question, I can’t help but remember these lessons and reflect on what I’ve learned during those years with the following questions:
One, what are my career aspirations and goals? This boils down to weighing all the pros and cons of pursuing your professional interests and the accompanying material rewards. So, which is important to you — career or material rewards? Sometimes, an organization can’t give you both unless you’ve proven yourself as an indispensable asset or a hot talent that can’t be found in other organizations.
Two, what if my personal values conflict with the new boss? What if your boss tells you to do something illegal or immoral by forcing you to terminate the employment of some people without just cause or due process? What if your new organization violates certain tax laws and you’re made part of the scheme? If that’s possible, what will your next move be?
Three, what are my career prospects with my current employer? If I stay for now, what are the chances that I will receive reasonable pay and perks corresponding to my experience, capacity, and potential? Am I receiving the right training, mentoring, and guidance from my boss and other work colleagues so I can achieve my goals? If yes, then I suggest that you stay put and enjoy your non-material perks.
Four, what is the reason they are hiring an outsider? It is a must for you to discover the history of the job that’s on offer. What happened to the previous occupant or occupants of that job? Was there an honorable separation like voluntary resignation, incapacity, retirement, or death? Why can’t they promote someone from within? Is there an objective succession plan in place that you can benefit from?
Last, what’s the organizational culture like? Is it being run by professional managers and key players in the industry? Or is it being run by family members of the stockholders who can make your life difficult? How is the company mission, vision, and value statements being implemented?
You can make an intelligent decision based on your overall plan, which I did not have when I was a job hopper. That means you need to broaden your horizons with your current organization. At your age (I would guess you’re around 31 years old), the best approach is to improve your work performance so that you can be noticed by your boss.
Ask the boss for challenging assignments and give it your best shot. If there are none, your next option is to discover operational problems and solve them without requiring the company to spend money, like what I’ve been advocating with Kaizen and Lean Thinking.
Learn much from the boss and adjust to their management style. Focus on actual results rather winning the perfect attendance award by staying long inside the office. Challenge yourself to come out with milestones and not mere average performance. While you’re at it, enroll in a weekend or evening post-graduate course that could offer you different perspectives.
Whatever you choose, give your current employer the chance to help you pursue your professional goals. Give yourself at least two more years. And if your desired goals are not achieved during that time, then better think of a career move, this time with another employer.